Preliminary Information - Fall 2020

- A message from Superintendent Dr. Hector Garcia -

Dear D181 families,

I hope the beginning of your summer has gone well and you have been able to enjoy the beautiful weather. I want to thank you all again for your partnership in the 2019-20 school year as we transitioned into remote learning and for your active participation during these challenging times.

While we have only been out of school for two weeks, I wanted to share some preliminary information about the reopening of school in the fall. This email covers only a few high-level topics and there is still much more information to come as the Illinois State Board of Education prepares to issue new guidance for reopening schools and remote learning.

Preparation for Fall 2020

For the past several weeks, our administrative team has been diligently working to build the framework necessary before receiving state guidance on the safe reopening schools. The latest communication from state officials encourages the reopening of schools in the fall but with stringent guidelines in place.

At their meeting Wednesday, ISBE Chief Education Officer Dr. Ernesto Matias said he "strongly encourages full in-person instruction." State Superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala said that face masks or face shields will be "required at all times with students and staff." Since we anticipated some of these changes, our staff has been busy exploring the following items, including but not limited to:

  • Student arrival procedures
  • Face coverings & PPE availability
  • Hand-washing and hand sanitizer stations
  • Responding to a possible case
  • Restrooms & Water fountains
  • Traffic flow & Hallways
  • Offices & Staff areas
  • Food service
  • Attendance monitoring
  • Safety & Crisis procedures
  • Playgrounds
  • Activities hosted by outside organizations (Before and After School Care, PTOs, Clubs, etc.)

Additional details are yet to be released but we expect them before the end of June. While we would love to return to our pre-COVID-19 way of conducting school, adjusting to the new ISBE guidelines and protecting the health of our students as well as staff will require flexibility as well as patience.

Health & Safety Concerns

We know that many of our parents and staff are anxious for the return of in-person classes. I have also heard from those with concerns that returning to schools will increase the spread of the virus, or that they, or someone they live with, is at-risk as one of the vulnerable populations most affected by COVID-19.

Local, state, and federal guidelines will likely change between now and the end of August but we are prepared to follow them. The health, safety, and social-emotional well-being of our students and staff are always at the forefront of our work. Please be assured that we will be addressing the unique needs of each student and staff population group. When we have more specific information about the safety aspect of what you can expect, we will share it with you and work through your concerns.

Next Steps & Expectations

While we are working with the expectation that schools will reopen in the fall, the reality is we must also be prepared for the possibility that a rise in cases may prevent us from reopening or result in another closure at any time throughout the school year. In order to avoid theorizing about the possible changes that the state will mandate, we'll work diligently and share our progress once the guidelines are shared from the state.

Our goal is to provide our families, students, and staff with the peace of mind that we are well-informed, well-prepared, and well-equipped to efficiently reopen our schools with the high standards our District has established as its operational norm.

Once our plans for the fall are complete, we'll share the information with all stakeholders by email and through a dedicated webpage on our website. We will also work closely with our principals, PTOs, members of our local media, and our community partners to ensure these plans are made available and known by all families in our school community.

I know that this has been a very difficult period for all of us on many different levels. I hope that you are able to find some solace during this time and enjoy these wonderful summer weeks with your family and friends. We will continue to work in partnership with our staff to conquer challenges and help our students excel.

We look forward to sharing more details with you in the days ahead and appreciate your patience and partnership.